Almost half of local NHS workers would prefer their pay to be cut rather than their pensions, according to an opinion poll.
As the government prepares to reform pensions and unions warn of strikes in protest, research suggests 45% of NHS workers would rather lose money now than in their retirement.
The opinions of 219 NHS workers were taken in a wider survey of more than 1,000 public sector workers.
In an indication of how recent pay freezes, promised reforms and budget cuts have affected staff, 80% of NHS workers rated morale in their organisation as average to poor in the survey by recruitment consultancy Badencoch and Clark.
The results show morale in the NHS is slightly worse than the average for the public sector as a whole, where only 73% of respondents judged morale to be average to poor.
Over half – 54% - of the public sector workers surveyed in the poll, carried out before last month’s strikes, were prepared to strike over the government’s plan to reduce the amount it spends on public sector pensions.
A slightly larger proportion of NHS workers - 60% - were ready to take industrial action.
The survey also showed that 40% of NHS workers thought public sector pay should be better than it is.
And in the week that Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said it was “absurd to expect that people can be paid the same amount in the public sector as they are paid in the private sector”, the survey showed a third of NHS staff thought pay should be equal between the two sectors.